A British eyewear designer favored by celebrities, including Robert Downey Jr, has revealed plans to launch a chain of pop-up stores after seeing sales soar amid the trend of looking good on Zoom calls during the pandemic. Kirk & Kirk – founded by husband and wife duo Jason and Karen Kirk 30 years ago – said it was aiming to make its first “retail foray” this fall.
The move will allow it to enter the UK retail market directly, building on its existing link with 100 independent optical retailers in Britain and over 300 more worldwide. Mr Kirk told the PA News Agency: ‘We are opening our first pop-up store, our first foray into retail, in September in Shoreditch.
“Our plan is to be nimble and develop pop-up stores. We then plan to open half a dozen stores next spring in different locations around the UK and then identify opportunities overseas. group is looking to hire more staff to oversee pop-up stores in the UK, while planning to expand its team of independent representatives worldwide to 25.
The expansion has been widely attributed to the pandemic, which saw Kirk & Kirk’s sales increase by 42% in the first year of the Covid crisis, while this year’s growth is expected to be 30%. Mr Kirk added: “The pandemic from a business perspective has been incredible for us.
“Most people have had conversations over Zoom and FaceTime and so glasses are becoming almost the only way to express themselves through clothing. More and more people have turned to larger glasses, more expressive glasses and more colored lenses to invest in themselves,” he added.
The company is the only brand in the world to create artisanal acrylic frames, designed in partnership with a factory in northwestern France with which it has worked for 10 years from “start to finish”. during the manufacturing process. “Acrylic is about a third the weight of acetate (which is what most glass frames are made of) and allows us to have big shapes and thick enough lenses for a fraction of the weight,” Ms. Kirk.
Mr Kirk said seeing stars like Iron Man actor Downey Jr wearing the company’s glasses “has made a huge difference” during the pandemic. He said: “The impact of someone with that sincerity, in the way they dress with that genuine personality, is our audience – talking to our audience – which immediately boosts our sales.”
The company continues to reap the benefits of going online during the pandemic, with its virtual try-on feature – which lets customers play with the frames – used by 6,000 people in the past week alone.